I bake a lot of apple cobblers and crisps during the fall baking season. The desserts are easy to make and have a very comfort-food element to them, though they’re delivering a generous serving of fruit as well as being a tasty treat. I do a lot of entertaining in the fall, however, and apple cobblers and crisps aren’t always the best choice for a crowd. They can be a little bit messy to serve and eat, and they’re not as easy to transport as something that can be cut into individual servings. To get the satisfying flavor of an apple cobbler in a better-for-entertaining form, I turn to these Buttermilk Apple Cobbler Bars.
Unlike a more traditional apple cobbler, these bars travel exceptionally well and are easy to share. The base bakes up to be firm enough to support the weight of the filling, giving the bars good structure, while the combination of brown sugar, oatmeal and spices in both the base and topping compliments the filling beautifully. You can taste both buttermilk and fresh, juicy apples in each bite of the filling. And the filling sets up very well, so you don’t have excess juice in the pan and the bars are still easy to slice!
While these bars can be served at room temperature, I recommend chilling them before slicing and serving. Chilling the bars helps to set the filling a little bit more firmly, leading to neater slices. The custardy filling tastes a little more flavorful after chilling, too. Though it is made with buttermilk and not cream cheese, it reminds me a little bit of cheesecake!
I cut these bars into 24 generously sized squares, but they bars can be cut into smaller or larger pieces depending on how many people you need to serve. If you want to really give a nod to traditional cobblers when serving these, pair them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. They don’t need the ice cream to be delicious, but I find it hard to say no to ice cream with any dessert.
Buttermilk Apple Cobbler Bars
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 cups shredded apples (approx 3 medium apples, peeled)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, prepare the topping. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt spices, sugar and oatmeal. Pour in butter and stir to combine.
Pour 2/3 of the mixture into prepared pan. Press it firmly into an even layer on the base of the pan.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to set.
While the base is baking, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Pour in buttermilk, vanilla extract and egg and whisk until very smooth. Stir in shredded apples.
Once the crust is just set, pour apple mixture over the crust and carefully spread the apples into an even layer using a spatula.
Sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture evenly over the apples, crumbling it in between your fingers to make it streusel-like.
Bake for 35-39 minutes, until bars are set and golden brown.
Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled.
Makes 24 bars.